Timothy is essentially a plant of temperate climates and is affected more by conditions of moisture than by temperature. It is very resistant to cold and bears a heavy cover of snow of long duration. Although the root system is rather shallow, it stands drought fairly well; the yields, however, are light under too dry conditions.
Varieties: Timothy includes innumerable types, markedly different from each other and of widely different agricultural value. In places where wild Timothy, or Timothy escaped from cultivation, has established itself, hundreds of types can be found side by side under exactly the same conditions. Giant plants, extremely leafy and consequently of great economic value, may be found cheek by jowl with small, dwarf types with but few leaves and spikes only half an inch long. Open tufts with ascending or almost decumbent stems may be seen in company with dense and bunchy tufts. Pale green, bluish green and bluish red plants may be found growing side by side. Early types, with the basal leaves brown and dead, may occur alongside of late maturing plants with an abundance of green leaves.
Habits of growth: Timothy is rather slow-growing and as a rule medium to late in maturing. It is in flower early in July in the southwest peninsula of the province of Ontario and from the middle to the end of July in Manitoba and northeastern Quebec. The seed is ripe about a month after flowering. If sown with cereals in the spring, it gives a satisfactory hay crop the following year.
Agricultural value: Timothy is used in Canada almost to the exclusion of other grasses, largely because clean seed of strong vitality is generally available at a low price. The expense per acre of seeding is less than with any other grass.
If fed alone, it is of low nutritive value for growing animals or for milk production, because it is deficient in flesh-forming constituents; it is therefore not a profitable fodder by itself for those purposes. A liberal mixture of clover improves it. It is favoured for work horses that have heavy grain rations as well, and, on account of its digestibility, it is the standard hay for livery horses required to work immediately after feeding.
Except on rich, moist lands, it does not by itself develop into a thick stand of plants, and for uplands it is better sown with other grasses or with Red Clover. When a fodder crop is required for only two years in a short rotation, it may be sown alone or with Alsike